The Greek that is translated in English as “music” is translated in Muna as “the sound of the gong and the drum.” René van den Berg explains: “There is no abstract word for ‘music’ (the footnote has the loan musik).”

In Nyongar it is translated as “singing” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), in Mazagway as “the sound of singing” (source: Ken Hollingsworth), in Uma as “people playing flutes” (source: Uma Back Translation), in Yakan as “playing-of-the-kulintang/gongs” (source: Yakan Back Translation), in Western Bukidnon Manobo as “drum” (source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation), and in Mofu-Gudur as “the sound of drumming” (source: Ken Hollingsworth).

In Burmese it is “the sound of beating-blowing.” “‘Beating blowing’ is a general term for instrumental music and covers the sound of percussion instruments, wind and brass instruments which are blown, and some stringed instruments which are also ‘beaten.'” (Source: Anonymous)


The now commonly-used German idiom die Augen gehen über (literally “the eyes overflow”), which today primarily means “amazed” (in the sense of “making big eyes”) was made popular in 1522 in the German New Testament translation by Martin Luther.

For other idioms or terms in German that were coined by Bible translation, see here.

In Burmese, the widely-used translation by Judson adds an honorific particle to every verb that describes an action of Jesus, so here he “cries royally.” (source: S.V. Vincent in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 196f. )


The Greek that is translated in English as “asleep” or similar is translated in Burmese as “royally asleep.” In the widely-used translation by Judson an honorific particle is added to every verb that describes an action of Jesus, so here he is “royally asleep.” (source: S.V. Vincent in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 196f. )

See also sound asleep.


The Hebrew that is translated as “eagle” in English is translated in the Burmese translation by A. Judson (first publ. in 1823, still the most widely-used translation in Myanmar) as rhve​langh​ta (ရွှေ​လင်း​တ) or “golden vulture (or: “eagle”).” While this might be a correct translation overall, the fact that vultures are disliked in Myanmar culture and they’re not considered to be a majestic bird, has some readers feel uneasy about the translation choice, especially for this verse (Isaiah 40:31). Some new translations use a different term that uses a word that specifically identifies an eagle. One revision of the Judson Bible is specifically known as the “Eagle edition” of 2006. “The editors are not known, and identified themselves only as ‘CRC.’ Basing their work on Judson’s version of the Myanmar Bible, they edited and changed many words, phrases, and sentence structures. The main concern of this edition is probably the translation of the word ‘eagle,’ thus the name ‘Eagle Edition.” (Source: Khoi Lam Thang in The Bible Translator 2009, p. 195ff.)

Anna Sui Hluan (2022, p. 257) remarks: “The fact that the authors of the revised translation remain anonymous, and that so few have questioned Judson’s translation, can be linked to Myanmar’s culture of respect. Adoniram Judson is not only respected among Christians but also by other religious groups in Myanmar, because of his contribution to the Burmese language.”

advocate, comforter, helper

The Greek that is translated as “comforter,” “advocate,” or “helper” in English is similarly difficult to translate in other languages.

Nida (1952, p. 164) notes:

“Perhaps no word in all the New Testament is so hard to translate adequately as the word ‘Comforter.’ The Greek word, generally transliterated as Paraclete, is exceedingly rich in its wealth of meaning, for it implies not only “to comfort” but also “to admonish,” “to exhort,” “to encourage,” and “to help.” To put all these meanings into one native expression is indeed difficult, and yet the missionary translator must try to find a term or phrase which will give the people an adequate picture of the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“In the Tausug language of southern Philippines the people use the phrase ‘the one who goes alongside continuously.’ In this sense He is the constant companion of the believer. In Eastern Highland Otomi of central Mexico the native believers have suggested the phrase “He who gives warmth in our soul.’ One can readily see the picture of the chilled heart and life seeking comfort in the Living Word and finding in the ministry of the Spirit of God that warmth which the soul so needs if it has to live in the freezing atmosphere of sin and worldly cares.

“The Baoulé Christians speak of the Comforter as ‘He who ties up the thoughts.’ The thoughts of the worried heart are scattered every place in senseless and tormenting disorder. The Comforter ties up these distracted thoughts, and though they still exist, they are under the control of the Spirit.”

In Luba-Katanga the legal aspect of Paraclete is particularly emphasized with the term Nsenga Mukwashi, a term that’s also used in the traditional legal system, referring to a person who in court proceedings “interests himself in the people and stands by them in trouble, in other words to plead their cause and be their advocate.” (Source: Wilfred Bradnock in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 49ff. )

In South Bolivian Quechua it is translated as “the heartener (=one who make one have a heart)” (source: T.E. Hudspith in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 66ff. ).

Here is another story that Nida (1952, p. 20) retells of Kare (click or tap here):

“When porters, carrying heavy loads on their heads, go on long journeys, often for as long as two or three months, they may become sick with malaria or dysentery, and in their weakness they straggle to the end of the line of carriers. Finally in complete exhaustion they may collapse along the trail, knowing full well that if they do not get to the safety of the next village, they will be killed and eaten by wild animals during the night. If, however, someone passing along the trail sees them lying there prostrate, and if he takes pity on them, stooping down to pick them up and helping them to reach the safety and protection of the next village, they speak of such a person as ‘the one who falls down beside us.’ It is this expression [that was] taken to translate ‘Comforter,’ for this is the One who sustains, protects, and keeps the children of God on their journey toward their heavenly home.”

“In Chichewa, it is translated in 1 John 2:1 by nkhoswe yotinenera: ‘mediator who speaks on our behalf.’ The nkhoswe is the traditional clan representative who speaks on behalf of individual members in negotiations involving another clan, as when a marriage is being arranged or a dispute (‘case’) is being settled. The modification yotinenera emphasizes the fact that the group as a whole requires this representation — certainly a very fitting metaphor depicting Christ’s role in pleading the case of humanity before his heavenly Father.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 78)

In Burmese, Adoniram Judson’s translation (publ. 1835) uses the term upjitze saya (ဥ​ပ​ဇ္ဈာယ်​ဆ​ရာ). This term refers to one’s first teacher, guide, and mentor. Specifically, in a Buddhist context, it refers to a senior monk who trains novitiate monks. At their ordination this senior monk is positioned closest to the novitiate when he recites his memorized lines for ordination, and can serve as a “prompter” if he stumbles, or forgets his lines. This connects with the Holy Spirit’s role to “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). More recent Burmese translations have abandoned this term in favor of various, more generic, terms for “helper”, perhaps because upjitze saya is a rare term and not understood well for those coming from a non-Buddhist context.

In Miao (Chuanqiandian Cluster) it is translated as “one who gets at the heart round the corner” (source Kilgour 1939, p. 150) and in Tsafiki as “helping Counselor” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.).

See also this devotion on YouVersion .


“The Greek word charis, usually translated by English ‘grace,’ is one of the desperations of translators. The area of meaning is exceptionally extensive. Note the following possible meanings for this word in various contexts of the New Testament: ‘sweetness,’ ‘charm,’ ‘loveliness,’ ‘good-will,’ ‘loving-kindness,’ ‘favor,’ ‘merciful kindness,’ ‘benefit,’ ‘gift,’ ‘benefaction,’ ‘bounty,’ and ‘thanks.’ The theological definition of ‘unmerited favor’ (some translators have attempted to employ this throughout) is applicable to only certain contexts. Moreover, it is quite a task to find some native expression which will represent the meaning of ‘unmerited favor.’ In some languages it is impossible to differentiate between ‘grace’ and ‘kindness.’ In fact, the translation ‘kindness’ is in some cases quite applicable. In other languages, a translation of ‘grace’ is inseparable from ‘goodness.’ In San Miguel El Grande Mixtec a very remarkable word has been used for ‘grace.’ It is made up of three elements. The first of these is a prefixial abstractor. The second is the stem for ‘beauty.’ The third is a suffix which indicates that the preceding elements are psychologically significant. The resultant word may be approximately defined as ‘the abstract quality of beauty of personality.’” (Source: Nida 1947, p. 223)

Other translations include (click or tap here to see more):

  • Inuktitut: “God’s kindness that enables us” (source: Andrew Atagotaaluk)
  • Kwara’ae: kwae ofe’ana (“kindness to one who deserves the opposite”) (source: Norman Deck in The Bible Translator 1963, 34ff. )
  • Chichewa: “being favored in the heart by God” (Source: Ernst Wendland)
  • Sayula Popoluca: “God’s favor” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Caribbean Javanese: kabetyikané (“goodness”)
  • Saramaccan: bunhati (“good heart”)
  • Sranan Tongo: bun ati (“good heart”) or gadobun (“God’s goodness”)
  • Eastern Maroon Creole: (gaan) bun ati (“(big) good heart”) (source for this and three above: Jabini 2015)
  • Fasu: “free big help”
  • Wahgi: “save without reward” (source for this and the one above: Deibler / Taylor 1977)
  • Warao: “goodness of his obojona.” Obojona is a term that “includes the concepts of consciousness, will, attitude, attention and a few other miscellaneous notions” (source: Henry Osborn in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 74ff. ) — see other occurrences of Obojona in the Warao New Testament.
  • Nukna: “God gave his insides to one.” (“The ‘insides’ are the seat of emotion in Nukna, like the heart in the English language. To give your insides to someone is to feel love toward them, to want what is best for them, and to do good things for them.” (Source: Matt Taylor in The PNG Experience )
  • Hindi, Bengali: anugraha (Hindi: अनुग्रह, Bengali: অনুগ্রহ) from graha: “grasp, a reaching out after, with gracious intent” (source: R.M. Clark in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 81ff. )
  • the German das Buch translation by Roland Werner (publ. 2009-2022) uses a large variety of translations, including “undeserved friendliness,” “wonderful work of God,” “loving attention,” “generous,” but also “undeserved grace (using the traditional German term Gnade)

In Latvian the term žēlastība is used both for “grace” and “mercy.” (Source: Katie Roth)

For Muna, René van den Berg explains the process how the translation team arrived at a satisfactory solution: “Initial translation drafts in Muna tended to (…) use the single word kadawu ‘part, (given) share, gift,’ but this word is really too generic. It lacks the meaning component of mercy and kindness and also seems to imply that the gift is part of a larger whole. Consequently we now [translate] according to context. In wishes and prayers such as ‘Grace to you and peace from God’ we translate ‘grace’ as kabarakati ‘blessing’ (e.g. Gal 1:3). In many places we use kataano lalo ‘goodness of heart’ (e.g. Gal 1:15 ‘because of the goodness of his heart God chose me’) as well as the loan rahamati ‘mercy’ (e.g. ‘you have-turned-your-backs-on the mercy of God’ for ‘you have fallen away from grace’; Gal 5:4). In one case where the unmerited nature of ‘grace’ is in focus, we have also employed katohai ‘a free gift’ (typically food offered to one’s neighbo-1urs) in the same verse. ‘The reason-you-have-been-saved is because of the goodness of God’s heart (Greek charis, Muna kataano lalo), going-through your belief in Kristus. That salvation is not the result of your own work, but really a free-gift (Greek dooron ‘gift’; Muna katohai) of God.’ (Eph 2:8).

In Burmese, it is translated with the Buddhist term kyeh’jooh’tau (ကျေး​ဇူး​တော်). LaSeng Dingrin (in Missiology 37/4, 2009, p. 485ff.) explains: “As regards the Christian term ‘grace,’ Judson [the first translator of the Bible into Burmese] could not have brought the Burmese Buddhists the good news about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and its benefits (i.e., forgiveness and salvation), without employing the Burmese Buddhist term kyeh’jooh’tau (‘grace’). Deriving from Pali kataññuta (“gratefulness”), kyeh’jooh’tau denotes ‘good deeds for others or benefits,’ which occur among humans. (…) When Christianized, kyeh’jooh’tau also refers to the atoning work of Jesus and its benefits, and can occur between humans and God. The word kyeh’jooh’tau looks very Burmese Buddhist, but it is Christian, too, and conveys the core of the Christian proclamation. Furthermore, kyeh’jooh’tau itself shows that translatability of Christianity cannot be imagined without reliance on Buddhism.” (See also the Burmese entry for God)

In American Sign Language it is translated with a sign that combines “compassion” and “giving out.” (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)

“Grace” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

See also grace to you.

Translation: Eastern Canadian Inuktitut

ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ ᒍᕇᑭᒃᑯᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅᑕᖓᑦ ᑐᑭᓕᐅᔾᔭᐅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐃᒫᒃ “ᓴᐃᒪᓂᖅ” ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑐᓪᓕ ᑐᑭᓕᐅᔾᔭᐅᓯᒪᒻᒪᑦ ᐃᒫᒃ “ᒎᑎᐅᑉ ᑐᙵᓇᕐᓂᖓᓂ ᐅᕙᑦᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᑎᑦᑎᕙᑦᑐᖅ.”

(Translator: Julia Demcheson)

complete verse (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 14:33:

  • Uma: “For God’s will is that our services be orderly, he doesn’t like things/people that are chaotic. That is the law that is followed in all the services of the Kristen people in every village.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “God does not want that it is troubled/noisy in our (incl.) gatherings, but he wants that we (incl.) live in harmony. And that is the custom in the gatherings of the ones trusting in Isa Almasi in all the places,” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because God does not want you to all speak at the same time when you gather together to worship him. For what he inspires you to do is not confusion, but rather it is peaceful activity.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because what God wants/likes is not what-is-disorderly but rather what is orderly/harmonious. Women ought to be quiet when you meet-as-a-congregation as they also do in the other congregations of God’s people. It is not permitted that they speak but rather they must submit-themselves to (lit. cause-themselves-to-be-ruled-by) the men just like it is written in God’s law.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because as for God, he does not plan/determine trouble/confusion but rather peacefulness and orderliness.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Because God does not want that all the people should be speaking at once. Do like the believers in the other cities do.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Burmese (translation by A. Judson, first publ. in 1823, still the most widely-used translation in Myanmar): “God does not nurture a work of confusion. As happened in all the churches of the saints, [He] nurtures harmonious peace.” (Source: Hluan 2022, p. 78ff. — see there also for a detailed analysis of Judson’s translation.)

complete verse (1 Corinthians 14:34)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 14:34:

  • Uma: “So, your women/wives must be quiet in the services. They are not permitted to be talking like that, they must submit as is written in the Law of the Lord.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “the women shall be quiet while they are in the gathering. They cannot take part in the arguments with the men because the holy-book says that it is not possible for a woman to cause-herself-to-be-higher than a man.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There’s also a command I have for you which is what the believers in every town do; it is this: don’t you permit that a woman teach when you gather together to worship. They should just listen, because the Law of the Jews teaches that women should not be in charge.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because what God wants/likes is not what-is-disorderly but rather what is orderly/harmonious. Women ought to be quiet when you meet-as-a-congregation as they also do in the other congregations of God’s people. It is not permitted that they speak but rather they must submit-themselves to (lit. cause-themselves-to-be-ruled-by) the men just like it is written in God’s law.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, just as is being followed/obeyed by all the people of God, it’s necessary that the women don’t speak (lit. make a noise) for they are not allowed to speak when the-whole-group is gathered together to worship. For like what was said in the laws, they are under the jurisdiction of the man.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “That is, the women are not allowed to speak where the believers are gathered. Because the women do not have permission to explain the word to the people. Rather the men must be the leaders just like the law of God says.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Burmese (translation by A. Judson, first publ. in 1823, still the most widely-used translation in Myanmar): “The wife of yours should stay silent in the church. They have no permission to preach. As the law commanded they must consent to the ruling of man.” (Source: Hluan 2022, p. 82ff. — see there also for a detailed analysis of Judson’s translation.)

For further consideration of this and the surrounding verses, see Daniel Arichea in The Bible Translator 1995, p. 101ff.